Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In the last few years, I’ve found myself in a liminal space between being in a normative type relationship – which I was for a large part of my late teens and twenties – and being single but of course looking out for ‘the one’ or just someone (!) to get into one with (Sex In The City style, cause those girls are ‘liberated’!). Neither am I in a relationship or looking to be in a (normative) one.

I think I probably used to think I was ‘subversive’ because I was in relationships with people of the same gender as me but ultimately I was often living in some version of the heteronormative trap. Sure, there are some nice things about that kind of partnership – all the on tap stuff - but I often felt my most lonely then.

Reading queer stuff both stirred up feelings I was already having and stood into help me articulate them (the questions I was having about relationships, intimacy, friendships and why the dominant discourse made me uncomfortable).

On the way out to a celebratory meal at a restaurant, my friend reassured me that I wouldn’t be the ‘only one’ since there were two other people who would be coming on their own. My heart sank a little bit because it reminded me how much single people are assumed to be lonely, sad, and in a desperate search for their ‘other half’. But I know plenty of people who are in relationships simply because they can’t countenance being single. I use ‘single’ here for want of a better way of saying it but ‘single people’ – what an insult to the myriad of important intimate relationships that keep us connected to the world around us. Interesting that ‘single’ people seem to really put some peoples backs up, maybe because they remind people that you really, really don’t have to kill yourself trying to ‘do’ heteronormativity... there are other ways!

Emotional intimacy, love, sex, and companionship are so conflated in the heteronormative discourse but for me, realising that over the past couple of years that these things can very easily exist as very separate entities (as well as together in different configurations sometimes) has been quite liberating. It helps me to imagine a future (don’t tell Edelman!) I actually can see myself as part of, rather than dreading the prospect of awkwardly trying to squeeze into heteronormative shaped cookie cutters.

Whatever my relationship status, it’s been important to me for a while to retain my ‘single’ identity as well as my general connectedness (friends, family, the ways I feel connected to the world, sources of life energy etc...) since I don’t want to lose a sense of my whole self, which is something that seems to easily happen in coupledom. I don’t think coupledom has to be like that, but things are set up that way and I’ve found it a challenge to practice coupledom any other way! I’m not suggesting I’m outside the heteronormative. I think that’d be impossible given the way language organises things - it’s very hard to talk in any other terms. The most self-consciously subversive people seem to attract the most attention which means that moments of resistance and subversions of normative intimacy that are quieter go unnoticed. But it seems like there are actually lots of those moments going on all the time, in amongst all the supposed ‘normality’ that we are constantly saturated with.

What does the future look like for me? I can’t say but I do hope that I carry on questioning all these things, living in such a way that I might be able to carry on teasing out and being okay with what it is I want, rather than what it is I’m supposed to want (perhaps the idea of separating these two things is a fantasy, but it’s one I’d quite like to hang on to!)'

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